Let's meet Sim Piseth, HVTO founder

Sim Piseth, founder of HVTO, was born in 1981 in Sophy village, 25km from Siem Reap city. Now he lives and works in the city as a professional tour guide. Sim worked very hard to obtain an education. Due to financial difficulty, he could only finish primary school. Fortunately, his parents sent him to a pagoda to become a monk and he lived in monasteries for 8 years for his higher education (Life & Buddhism, Dharmas and Pali school). (click here to read what the people say about him).

In 1997, he met a German friend who encouraged him to improve his English with the goal of working in the tourism industry when peace and stability returned to Cambodia. He also financed studies for Sim at the English Institute. At age 16 and with civil war ongoing in Cambodia, Sim did not entirely understand the tourism industry. Despite these circumstances, he continued to study and prepare himself to work as a guide.

In 2000, peace came and the Cambodian government began an open-door policy. Cambodia was reopened to the world after 30 years. Tourists began to arrive and kept increasing dramatically. Hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and tourist-based businesses were opened in the city. The growth, combined with Sim's desire to support himself and his blended poor family, caused him to leave the monastery. It is not compulsory to remain in a monastery after joining. Many young men from the countryside stay in a Buddhist monastery for a few years for education and then leave to follow other pursuits.

Due to his knowledge of English and German, Sim Piseth got job as an English teacher in private school and started working in the tourism industry. He went from a low paid waiter in the small restaurants, hotels, night clubs, bars and discotheques to a position as a better-paid local guide of Artisans d’ Angkor. Money he earned was partially spent to support his parents and family and partially invested in more education.

While he was working in a hotel, he met Mr. Ken Widdoson from Australia who helped him to fund a computer training course. When he worked in Artisans d’ Angkor he met Dr. Renate Soeder from Germany. Sim has a close relationship with Dr. Soeder, who he regards as his sister for her ideas, encouragement and help to become a knowledgeable tour guide. In 2006, Mr. Robin Walker and all his children become very important friends and sponsors for Sim Piseth. With sponsorship from this family, Sim Piseth became an official tour guide licensed by the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism on 29th December 2008. Currently Sim Piseth is working on a contract for www.indochina-services.com to earn a living and support his large patchwork families.

As a tour guide, Sim Piseth met many kind tourists who wanted to help Cambodian people. Sim supports many activities for these tourists such as visiting and supporting a number of orphanages in Siem Reap, enrolling many children around the temples in school, and working as a bridge between sponsors and sponsored children. He helped NGOs build schools in rural areas and provided water pumps for people in villages.

Sim's work in tourism provides the opportunity to meet people and make friends around the world. With these experiences, he thought that it must be possible to create programs promoting education to help people and children in his own community. With sponsors and volunteers, he put the various efforts into a small licensed NGO called HVTO on 28th August 2008.

HVTO is a non-profit NGO that develops and manages projects of Free Education Programs (English Programs, Computer Training and Library) Education Sponsorship Program and Clean Water Projects. These projects are aimed at helping the poorest and neediest Cambodian communities improve their quality of life and to enable self-sustainability. Reducing poverty and increasing wisdom is the aim. Education is the answer. HVTO development projects simultaneously create job opportunities for local people.

Did you know that, in the past, due to the repression carried out by the Khmer Rouge, a lot of population in Cambodia was forced to leave the cities and move to the countryside? As a result, more than two million people were killed and schools and books were burnt and destroyed. Nowadays, the government is making great efforts to change this situation, but extra help is really needed to speed up this process.

Sim Piseth says We believe that the greatest help we can give to young people in Cambodian communities is education. We believe that education will empower people and create conditions for sustainable development.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read the personal story of a founder and those who are willing to help him succeed with his projects. Please contact HVTO to become a financial sponsor.


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